|January 7, 2000||Volume 7, Number 8|
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Aboriginal students academically equal to any other students
To the editor:
I take exception to Wayne Eyres criticism of the university for adapting to the needs of Aboriginal students [Easier Aboriginal access to U of S does no-one a favor, On Campus News, Nov. 26, 1999].
Mr. Eyre argues that to make the university more accessible for Aboriginal students is equal to simplifying the education offered or lowering academic standards to accommodate what is in his view inferior academic talent.
I couldnt disagree more. For the past decade I have been teaching roughly equal numbers of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students for the Department of Native Studies and SUNTEP [Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program]. In my experience, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students are equal in talent or lack thereof and their grades prove it.
Contrary to his expectations, in my classroom I apply the same university standard that I have always applied students meet it, exceed it, or fall below it. There are no racial differences among my students whose averages are the same within one or two percentage points over the course of a year, year after year. There are no signs that altering the entrance requirements has meant a change in academic standards at this university.
Perhaps Mr. Eyre would provide some evidence for his insinuation that the first-year drop rate can be attributed to Aboriginal students?
Again, in my experience, Aboriginal students have worked hard to get here and are motivated, lively and engaged intellectually in their course work.
Mr. Eyre does his flawed argument no favours by quoting David Frums racist views of Indigenous Canadians.
The U of S promotes all kinds of agendas scientific, artistic, what have you. Why should Aboriginal perspectives be excluded?
The University has always adapted to changing circumstances; flexibility and adaptability are two of its virtues as an institution of higher learning.
For too long excluded from higher education, Aboriginal peoples are beginning to make their presence felt in academe. Once here, Aboriginal students acquit themselves well; equal to any other students on campus, on average.
We should encourage the university to adapt and change becoming rigid or unchanging would indeed lead to a damaging compromise of its integrity.
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